LEMOORE - Butte College coach Tyler Newton and Palomar coach Leigh Marshall were both hired to revitalize their respective women's basketball programs. For Newton and the Roadrunners, the process has come to a head as Butte advances to the 2023 CCCAA Championship game with a 60-59 victory over previously unbeaten Palomar on Saturday night at West Hills College Lemoore
The Roadrunners will take on Orange Coast, a winner over Santa Rosa and the south's number one seed, at 3:30 pm for the championship. The game will be streamed live at www.BAOSN.tv.
Ironically, Orange Coast coach Sammy Doucette path to the state finals also required a rebuilding approach.
Palomar, the south's number two seed, was trying to become the sixth undefeated women's champion. Since being hired at Palomar, Marshall, the 11th head coach in the Comets' history, has led the program to seven conference championships, four Sweet 16 appearances, and six Elite 8 appearances, three semifinal appearances. A championship appearance will have to wait.
The game featured 11 lead changes. In the first half alone, there were six lead changes.
Palomar broke a 17-17 tie with 8:28 remaining on a jumper by Faith Schwantner. The Comets extended the lead to 24-17 with 6:05 left, and then to a 10-points at 32-22, with 3:39 remaining on a three-point shot by Camille Scrouf. Butte rallied, however, scoring nine of the next 13 points as the Roadrunners' Meghan Weinrich scored five and teammate Sarah Tait added four points to get within five at 36-31.
In the third quarter, Butte behind Weinrich and Tait overtook the Comets with 5:59. A layup by Weinrich have Butte a 42-40 lead. The two teams would exchange the lead three more times. Eventually, Palomar opened a 52-47 going into the fourth quarter.
With five minutes remaining, Palomar's lead had been trimmed to one at 55-54 after upping its lead to 55-47 at 9:03. Butte got a layup from Weinrich and a three-pointer from Jordan Arreola to get within 55-52 with 7:19 remaining. Over a minute later, Arreola hit a jumper, getting the Roadrunners within one, 55-54.
Both teams struggled in the final minutes. Palomar, who committed three turnovers in the final 5:45, was 0 for 9 from the field in the last nine minutes. Butte, meanwhile, was 4 for 7 with two turnovers. The Roadrunners took a 58-57 lead with 1:15 remaining when Weinrich made a layup. Jordan Arreloa added two free throws with four seconds left.
(Robert Schmidt, CCCAA)